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A positive message to the industry in times of uncertainty

Like many small to medium enterprises in Australia today contemplating the COVID-19 crisis impact, our business has spent a tumultuous 48 hours preparing to go into a self-imposed social separation.

That means 14 people working from home, on their mobile phones and laptops, keeping the commercial wheels in motion, supporting our clients and each other.

To make this happen quickly required a gargantuan effort – from buying a bunch of laptops (increasingly in short supply in Australia) to devising adequate data protection security and ensuring the right policies and procedures were in place. It has been a rigorous, fast-paced and exhausting process, but, seriously, not all of it has been bad.

Why? Because it has reminded each of us of the purpose of what we are here for in business. Above all, it has asked each of us to remain positive and look for ways to make a meaningful difference to each other and our clients.

The 80:20 rule


We have an 80/20 rule that defines our philosophy; yes, 80 per cent of everything we experience about this global COVID-19 pandemic will probably be negative. There’s no two ways about it. However, there will be 20 per cent of the story that may surprise us – providing new opportunities, a new way of challenging our thinking, and even a new way of operating our business. Perhaps this thinking can also help you and your business?

In the spirit of the “positive 20 per centers” among us, let me share some of the things I have learned in the past 48 hours. Hopefully, this will spark your own way of thinking slightly differently about the circumstances we all find ourselves in.  

Firstly, you can achieve more than you think possible.

Diversifying your offering to make your business as bulletproof as possible by not relying on one sector, or one revenue stream, is a smart strategy.

Break it down, empower others and get on with it. It’s amazing what can get done when you enact a goal-setting approach to keep the business progressing forward. The lesson here is to plan with a forward-thinking attitude at all times, no matter the prevailing market conditions or business mood.

Nobody could have predicted the current COVID situation, naturally. But working through it with a sense of purpose has taught us this valuable lesson.

Secondly, I can see, like other unexpected events, this too will pass. Life will exist on the other side of the global virus pandemic. So, prepare for that time.

We have been proactive in helping mortgage brokers prepare their SME clients on the expected abrupt halt of cash flows. Take initiative and plan for that by looking through your client database and anticipate what issues could put them at risk so that you are armed with as much information as possible and know your options.

As a referrer, get ready with an action plan to go to short-term lending players and banks with applications for relief packages and solutions to help support your clients in this time, before they are faced with the equivalent of the long queues we are seeing at major supermarkets.

Thirdly, out of the process of thinking harder about how we can make an enduring difference to the referrers and brokers of Australia, our business is offering free guidance to brokers on their transactions during this time. We believe it is essential for us to offer our expertise to ensure we are available as a source of knowledge to the wider community.

As finance professionals, clients look to us in these times of uncertainty to have their backs covered. Finance is stressful enough in normal scenarios, so we need to demonstrate that no matter what happens we will be there as the calm voice of reason that can provide them guidance and assistance should they need it.

Shifting our thinking to be the solution and the level head in this climate by focusing on the positive light to what we do will be vital.

As an example of a shift of thinking, even as this opinion piece was conceived with our communications guys, we met for the first time online. It was a brief meeting, saving us all precious time and we got to the point quickly. No handshakes, no kisses on the cheek. But I did get to meet the pet dogs at the homes of the people helping us through this crisis.

A positive message to the industry in times of uncertainty

Jean-Pierre Gortan

Jean-Pierre Gortan is co-founder and managing director of Marketplace.finance, which offers a simple, full service digital solution to enable any accredited referrer to fulfil commercial loans regardless of experience or time in a seamless way.

Marketplace.finance’s value-add service unlocks latent opportunities through the commercial value chain for its partners and enables them to capitalise on their skills and revenue stream.

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